Here is a review I wrote up after finishing off Wolf's Rain about.. Half an hour ago. I have to say, I am impressed..
These are the scores I gave the series at AnimeNfo:
And now, the review:
The animation in Wolf's Rain is top notch, that's all I really need to say.. Honestly.
Whenever a blizzard hits, you realize just how much attention to detail went into Wolf's Rain. At one point, I didn't even know that I was looking at an animated snowstorm. It looked REAL.
Characters are all done pretty well, and they all have their own unique appearances, with the exception of Hubb Lebowski who looks like a 1930's cop. I'm sure that this was intentional though.
I really don't know what to say. Landscapes were beautiful, characters looked great, effects were good.. The animation is simply above average.
I adore the sound in this anime. The soundtrack, from the opening and ending themes, to the orchestrated (I believe so) music that played during the episodes, the music knocked my socks off. Top quality stuff here, guys and girls.
Voices were good as well. I didn't listen to the Japanese voices beyond episode one because I enjoyed the dub voice actors more.. I'm not saying that the Japanese voices were bad, no.. The English cast just did such a great job bringing the characters to life for those of us who speak English.
The story is a little odd, but if you pay enough attention to it, you won't have any problems understanding it at all. I won't really go into it for the sake of spoilers, but pay attention to every character who seems fixated on Paradise. You'll pick up on the story easily if you do.
As far as story progression goes, a few "arcs" of the story may feel a little dragged out, but it isn't too bad. As stated in other reviews, there are a few filler episodes in the middle of the series that just recap everything that happened. I watched most of the first one before I realized that it was just recycled scenes, so I skipped over them. Once you hit episode 20, the story really gets interesting and all sorts of new problems emerge..
And then when episode 26 rolls around, things become very, very dramatic. I won't lie, if you do find yourself loving the series up to this point (episode 26 and beyond) you may find some of the following episodes to be tear jerkers. I know I did..
Anyway, the early portions of the series just focuses on building the personalities of the characters. The middle builds on the story, and the last ten episodes puts the pieces of the puzzle together.
The characters in Wolf's Rain were all very well done… With the exception of one. Can you guess who? No, not some random, generic character who only appears every ten episodes. Kiba, the main character, is the one I have in mind. What's wrong with Kiba? Well, he is very bland and one dimensional. Unlike the rest of the cast, his personality never really grows at all. The only thing that is ever on his mind is Paradise it seems. I understood his character, yes, but he was just so shallow and I don't know how this happened considering he is the protagonist..
The rest of the cast is great though. Cher Degre and Hubb Lebowski are simply amazing together, and it isn't until very late in the series that we realize just how much they mean to each other.. Anyone who has watched all of the series will know exactly what I am talking about. The same can be said about Quent the wolf hunter and his dog Blue. They have a very interesting relationship that really grows throughout the series.. The same goes for Toboe and Tsume, believe it or not.
It seems like every character has had a rough life or something that has really messed with their way of doing things, but there is a plus side.. Every character has a shoulder to lean on at some point, and that is a nice thing.
The characters, except for Kiba, are all fantastic and develop an awful lot throughout the series.
I had the option of watching the dub or sub.. I listened to each very closely in the first episode and decided to go with the english dub. Why?
Well, like Cowboy Bebop, Wolf's Rain has a very distinct western feel to it. The voice actors in the dub do a fantastic job, especially towards the end of the series. I might watch the series again with the Japanese voices, but I am still blown away by the fantastic job the English voices did.
Spoiler crap below (also hey, get spoiler tags for the forums, please :D):
I'm not going to deny it. Wolf's Rain made me shed a few tears. First off, I'm going to point a finger at the English voices. Yes, I am playing the BLAME GAME. The voice acting in Wolf's Rain was very well done, which made the later episodes especially difficult to stomach.
When Cher dies in Hubb's arms, and he begins weeping and crying her name out in between sobs, in full English, I couldn't help but shed a tear for the poor guy. I mean.. He had just worked so damn hard to get her back, and they had shared many wonderful moments together since being reunited. I can't count how many times I saw them laughing together.. And then, to see Mother Nature tear Cher away from Hubb… Ouch.
Her send off was very well done. Watching Hubb lower Cher's corpse into the water and then proceed to hopelessly push the jeep all by himself. How can you not feel bad for the Hubb? Honestly?!
And then, what, an episode or two later we get treated to the demise of not only Toboe, who was a main character, but the awesome Quent. Watching Toboe jump between Darcia and Quent, immediately after Quent told Blue that she wasn't his dog anymore and leaving was so damn heavy. After Quent accidently shoots Toboe I honestly didn't expect him to run to his side. It was like something deep inside Quent, something warm and fuzzy, came back to life... And then yeah, Darcia shot Quent. ARGH!!!
So now two well developed characters are laying together in the cold snow, dying. One is a wolf who fought desperately to gain the acceptance of humans. The other, an old man who hated wolves with a passion.
When Quent put his hand on Toboe's neck, rubbed him and said "You're a good boy." ... Oh holy hell, that did it for me. And I thought the Cher death was dramatic. Seeing Quent letting go of his past and finally accepting wolves under those circumstances was tough to stomach. This was without a doubt the saddest scene I have seen yet in any anime I've watched.
I was REALLY rooting for Hubb, since he was the only human left now. It was right after Quent and Toboe died that Hubb said that he would stick with them because he too wanted to see Paradise. Wow.
I was surprised, he managed to get pretty far.. Until he realized that mountain climbing wasn't exactly one of his strong points. Hubb's death wasn't as bad.. I mean, he went willingly and all. Seeing him hold up the cigar he found earlier as the wolves proceeded up the mountain towards Paradise.. GENIUS!!
Now, I don't even want to comment on how Darcia slaughtered Blue, Hige, and Tsume. That whole scene just angered me so much. It told me "Hey, guess what? Bland ol' Kiba is going to be the only one left because you know that Cheza is going to die!! You've known it since the first episode!"
And of course, Cheza died. As did Darcia.... But then wow, Kiba died. I honestly didn't see that coming... And for a minute or two, I sat wondering what the hell I just watched. Everyone died!? Jesus, that was worse than Evangelion's ending! At least Evangelion left two people alive!!
But then, what's this? Paradise, I presume? Everything is back to normal. We see Kiba walking along a city street. Tsume goes by on a motorcycle. Hige is stuffing his face. Toboe is making friends with a kitten. I was a little happy to see everyone alright again, especially Tsume since he was my favourite character... But where was Cher? Quent? Blue? Hubb? ... And didn't Cheza tell Kiba that she would be waiting for him in Paradise or something? Where was she?
I guess that last ending scene just left us with more unanswered questions, but.. I'm alright with that. Wolf's Rain was a damn good series. I enjoyed watching every episode, and I don't regret a minute of it. :)